Adam (kenjita) wrote,

So I'm doing a paper on the Miller's tale, from the Canterbury Tales, and as I can't seem to be fucked to find Sarah's copy, I just downloaded some scans from google books of old versions from the turn of the century. One seems to be the original text, and the other seems to be a translation into 100 year old English (which isn't too complicated, really... few changes).

The funny thing is, I hadn't read the story in a couple years, so I read the translation to briefly familiarize myself with it again. Upon the readthrough, it seemed... confusing. I didn't think too much about it, however, and so I went on my way, writing up my paper... I recalled one part saying the carpenter went to Church (at Oseney, which was to do some work, but I needed to check)... ended up finding a resource for UK teachers to teach the Miller's tale, started reading it, and... well, they were talking about stuff that I had REMEMBERED being in the story, yet it didn't seem so obvious when I read through it. That's when I realized: they cut the damn thing out in the translation. Anything considered crude, they did not translate. It's in the original text, published around the same time, and I can even see where they made the cut. They don't mention having taken these liberties anywhere that I could obviously find, and publishing a 600+ page book and titling it "The Complete Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer"... seems like you might not edit for content, honestly, but there it is. The story makes a hell of a lot more sense, now. I mean, I had remembered it being a lot more... y'know, crude.

So, can't rely on THAT for anything besides quoting the parts that are in the original text... it's just kind of funny to see that they did that back in like 1912.

Edit: besides the obvious HUGE GLARING CUT, here's a decent example of some subtle but important changes in translation (yes, I'm using translation, even though "rendering" might be more accurate):

This Nicholas thought he would amend all the sport; he
should kiss him ere he escaped! Back he put the window in
haste, and out he put himself. Thereupon spoke this clerk Absalom, "Speak, sweet bird, I wot not where thou art;" and then he was ready with his hot iron and smote Nicholas therewith.

The Original:
This Nicholas was risen for to pisse, And thoghte he wolde amenden al the lape, He sholde kisse his ers er that he scape. And up the windowe dide he hastily 3801 And out his ers he putteth prively Over the buttok, to the haunche-bon; And ther-with spak this clerk, this Absolon, ' Spek, swete brid, I noot nat wher thou This Nicholas anon leet flee a fart, As greet as it had been a thonder-dent, That with the strook he was almost art.'And he was redy with his iren hoot, And Nicholas amidde the ers he smoot.

So in story A, Nicholas A puts "himself" out of the window to receive a kiss instead of Alison, and then for absolutely no reason (as the reason behind this gesture is what was cut) Absalom hits him with a hot iron.

In the original story, Nicholas is having sex with Alison, gets up to take a quick pee, and decides to shove his ass outside the window for Absalom to kiss. When Absalom says "Speak, so that I can find you", he farts in his face, and is then hit with the hot iron.
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